Conservative "abortion services"

NARAL joins the fight against antiabortion and pregnancy crisis centers' false advertising.

Published March 27, 2006 8:55PM (EST)

In a story we missed last week, the Washington Post reported that under the Bush administration, "local antiabortion and crisis pregnancy centers have received well over $60 million in grants for abstinence education and other programs." Oftentimes these organizations advertise under "abortion services" in the yellow pages, which is like advertising "free food" when you're actually giving out shit.

The Post looked at the swell of federal funding to culturally conservative organizations since President Bush entered office in 2001. Although this sort of politically directed funding is not particularly unusual -- according to the Post, liberal presidents have funded their share of pet projects as well -- what is alarming is that more than a third of the funding under the auspices of "faith-based initiatives" is going to antiabortion and "pregnancy crisis centers," as they are dubiously called. This money has allowed groups like the Door of Hope Pregnancy Care Center in Madisonville, Ky., and abstinence-only nonprofit Heritage Community Services in Charleston, N.C., to as much as triple their annual budgets, "allowing them to branch out and hire staff, especially for abstinence education."

The good news is that members of both parties are skeptical of "the distribution of money under the religion-based initiatives" Bush has put forward, the Post reports. Bill Smith, vice president of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States and outspoken critic of abstinence-only sex education programs, told the Post that "these organizations would not be in existence if not for the federal dollars coming through." And NARAL has organized a conference call to discuss new federal legislation designed to help protect women from fake clinics. Even staunch conservative Grover Norquist called the grants "corrupting," pointing out that "the danger is that any group that gets money from the government will end up serving the interests of the state rather than the constituencies they are trying to serve."

By Sarah Goldstein

Sarah Goldstein is an editorial fellow at Salon.

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